2 Movies Like The Return (2020)

Staff & contributors

A 100-minute highlight reel of the audacious 24-hour performance staged by artist Taylor Mac in 2016, this concert film succeeds not only in capturing the show's eclectic mix of songs, drag costumes, and interactive audience segments, but in capturing the emotional atmosphere conjured up in that Brooklyn warehouse. The very premise of the performance is ripe for analysis: a history of America starting from 1776, progressing one decade every hour, represented by selections of popular music of the time—which Mac questions at every turn, reinterpreting and reclaiming them for a contemporary queer audience. It begins as a creatively educational exercise, but gradually becomes more and more personal, until the audience is fully involved in the performances themselves.

Even the 24-hour format transcends its gimmick. That the show becomes an endurance test is deliberate, with bonds forming in real time and the exhaustion of this ever-changing drag performance conveying the weight of all this history on the most vulnerable and misrepresented sectors—who've already endured continuous losses decade after decade. And still there is cause for celebration, and genuine warmth among the people slowly becoming more vulnerable with each other over 24 hours. It's a beautiful, intelligent, frequently funny, and ultimately moving experience in a class all its own.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Anastasia Durasova, Heather Christian, Machine Dazzle Flower, Matt Ray, Niegel Smith, Taylor Mac

Director: Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein

Rating: PG-13

There’s something frightening about being consistently spurned due to circumstances out of your control. This is the main concern of Pulimada’s Vincent, since he’s not marriage material due to his family’s history of mental illness. The twisty plot is reminiscent of old gothic mysteries, complete with a tiger metaphor, but the execution is off, especially since it takes more than two thirds of the film before there’s anything to fear. It’s clear that Pulimada has an engaging, though dated concept, and Joju George’s transformation for Vincent could have definitely gotten there. But entering this tiger’s den feels like a letdown when there’s no risk, no style, no intrigue in the film’s approach.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Abu Salim, Aishwarya Rajesh, Balachandra Menon, Chemban Vinod Jose, Dileesh Nair, Jaffer Idukki, Jeo Baby, Johny Antony, Joju George, Krishna Prabha, Lijomol Jose

Director: A K Sajan